In this guide, I will give you some tips on how to develop and train your concealed carry mindset.
As we discussed in our previous guide, maintaining a proper mindset is one of the responsibilities of concealed carry. (Go back to the concealed carry responsibilities guide if you have not read it.)
Developing and maintaining a proper mindset is important since one wrong decision can be costly. You could end up a felon with jail time, fines, and never allowed to carry a weapon again.
Before you purchase a handgun, go to the range, or get your concealed carry license, I recommend taking some time working on these techniques.
I have a lifetime concealed carry license and carry every day. Below, I will combine some stoic wisdom with my personal experience to give you the tools you need.
Keep reading to find out what they are.
What is a Concealed Carry Mindset?
A concealed carry mindset is a state of mind that allows you to make the correct decisions under stress while carrying a concealed weapon.
Having a proper mindset is something that is practiced over time and is not something that you just learn one day and it’s done.
Just like anything else we learn, it must be trained.
How to Train a Concealed Carry Mindset
I have read many guides that discuss how you should have a concealed carry mindset. They say you should be prepared to defend yourself, carry every day, be disciplined, and train often.
And I agree, these are the responsibilities that we have. But they don’t talk about how you get there.
It is the same as telling me I need to be accurate to be a good shooter. OK, but how do I do that?
Below, I will step through different techniques to help you train your concealed carry mindset.
1 – Check Your Ego
Our Ego can hold us back in many areas of our life. I find that this statement sums it up well.
Ego can take what really matters and replace it with what doesn’t matter.
Think about that statement for a minute. Have you ever been in an argument, maybe on social media? After a few weeks, it is likely that you can remember arguing with someone but can’t remember what it was about. In the end, it wasn’t important at all.
I find that everyone has an ego to some degree. I have an ego, and you do as well. I also find that keeping my ego in check is a constant exercise. It is not something that you just turn off.
As I discussed in the concealed carry responsibilities guide, we must keep a defensive mindset and avoid conflict. But what if anger creeps in?
If someone in passing makes a rude remark about you or your loved one, how does it sit with you? Be honest with yourself. If you would immediately jump up like Will Smith and smack them, that is your ego in control.
How you react to that rude remark is your choice. Your ego tells you that other people will think less of you if you don’t react. What it is actually doing is replacing the reason you are carrying concealed with what other people think. Does that make any sense at all?
Marcus Aurelius said, “I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.”
Why do we care about other people’s opinions of us? Ego separates us from reality. The reality is their opinion of you doesn’t matter. It has no bearing on your well-being whatsoever.
To keep my ego in check, I like to refer to my list of what is most important to me (which we discussed in the previous guide.) I have providing for and protecting my family at the top of the list. Does getting into a physical altercation and drawing my gun because of an argument with someone support that? No, it will do the opposite.
Understanding and keeping your ego in check takes inner reflection and mindfulness. Pay attention to your thoughts. Do they support what is most important?
Marcus Aurelius said, “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”
Think about that the next time you are carrying concealed, and you feel ego creeping in.
2 – Practice Self-Discipline
In the responsibilities guide, I mentioned having discipline to train, carry regularly, learn, and maintain your mindset as a responsibility.
It is all nice to say, but how do we do it?
Here is what I like to focus on:
- Know the Why
- Have a Routine
- Be Accountable
- Just Show Up
- Eliminate Distractions
- Seek Discomfort
It starts with having a purpose, and this ties back to my list of the most important things. Once I have compelling reasons to do something, it becomes easier to commit myself.
In my experience, setting a routine helps me to maintain self-discipline. If I set a time to do my dry fire training every Tuesday and Thursday evening, it becomes easier to do it. If I keep telling myself, “I really should do some dry fire drills,” time just goes by, and it never happens.
I like to keep myself accountable by writing in my journal about my day. What did I do well? What did I not do? I find that writing it down brings it out and makes it more meaningful.
When I don’t “feel” like doing something, it helps to just show up. I have to keep in mind that every day, every training session, or every study session is not going to be the best ever. But just showing up and being consistent builds a habit. That is what self-discipline is.
Distractions can derail my consistency. I find that sometimes I have to say “No” to some things so I can say “Yes” to things that are more important. Again, I have to keep the most important thing the most important thing.
Just like a muscle, we must train our minds. One way to do this is by seeking discomfort. Take a cold shower, sleep on the floor, or go do some sprints. A person who does not fear change or difficulty is more likely to be persistent and disciplined.
Dr. Amy Arnsten, a professor of neurobiology at the Yale School of Medicine, writes that “human studies indicate that success in managing challenging situations can build resilience.” In other words, the more you encounter small, stressful situations, the better you’ll be at handling the bigger situations.
3 – Use Negative Visualization
Seneca said, “The person who has anticipated the coming of troubles takes away their power when they arrive.”
You may have noticed this quote on our home page. It really is the basis for emergency preparedness, concealed carry, and just being ready for life in general.
I like to accomplish this by what is called negative visualization. This is an exercise that stoic people use to help be prepared, called premeditaro malorum.
With negative visualization, you simply think of the bad things that can happen while you are concealed carrying out in public. You then visualize the way you should react.
By doing this in a low-stress and safe environment, you are training your mind to process the event logically and in line with what is most important.
This works well for preparing for the day you may have to use your weapon for self-defense. Can you really do it? Injuring or taking someone’s life is something that you will always have to live with, even if it is perfectly justified.
I then go through the scenarios. I am at checkout with my wife, and a gunman enters the store and starts shooting. What should I do? Engage or head out the back? If he has a rifle and is 30 yards away, what should I do? How do I keep other people who may be carrying concealed from mistaking me for the gunman?
Similarly, think through what it means to be threatened. Remember, you should never touch your gun in public unless you are fearful for your life. But what does this really mean? Visualize some scenarios and play them out in your head. How will you react?
As you can see, you can go down a rabbit hole pretty quickly. But visualizing these scenarios will give your mind some experience, and you won’t have to process what should I do? You will have seen it before and can immediately take the right action.
4 – Practice Mindfulness
This is a stoic principle that is really the basis of how we feel in general.
I have a post-it note on my desk that says, “Be patient with your thoughts.”
I came up with this as a reminder to pay attention to my thoughts and understand that they can be “off” sometimes. Just like a two-year-old, they may be grumpy and irrational after a long day without a nap.
And this is OK.
But I have the choice to change my thoughts and make them something better immediately. Nothing else in the world has any power over my thoughts. I have 100% control.
When you think about that, it is powerful.
Throughout the day, just stop and ask yourself what have you been thinking about. Have you been complaining to yourself about something in the news? Upset about the demonstrations in a faraway city?
If you come across a rude person in the parking lot as you come out of a store, will your thoughts from the day affect how you react to them? Recognize ahead of time that it may not be a good situation, and you should avoid it.
Epictetus said, “Don’t seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will-then your life will flow well.”
I like to remember this quote since it reminds me that not everything is going to go my way. There is no point in my thoughts just making a situation worse. Having negative thoughts and being upset is human, but learn to recognize it.
Take the Next Step with Us
Seneca said, “Whatever can happen at any time can happen today.”
Once I had been carrying concealed for a few years, I sometimes found myself leaving my handgun at home.
“It’s just a quick trip to the store,” or “I have been there a hundred times, and nothing ever happened,” I would tell myself.
Again, I had to go back to why I made the commitment and my concealed carry mindset.
Next, read our guide on situational awareness and concealed carry (coming soon). We will detail why it is important and give you some tricks you can use to help both avoid conflict and recognize it ahead of time.
Up Next: Situational Awareness Training Tips
Go back to the main Concealed Carry Guide